It is amazing to me how we can sometimes miss the forest for the trees. I mentioned several weeks ago that the priority of Jesus was clearly proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Yet many of us seldom speak about, preach about, teach about or even think about the very thing that was obviously Jesus’ FIRST priority.
The same is true of disciple making. When Jesus returned to Heaven at His ascension, (see Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:8), He left clear and very specific directions to the remaining disciples to “Go… and make disciples of all nations….” Somehow we have misinterpreted Jesus’ words to mean either (1) make converts or (2) bring people to a church service. We have excluded the phrase “make disciples” from our vocabulary and our thinking. When we ask the average Christian “what is your strategy for making a disciple” or “who are you discipling,” the surprised or blank stare that we receive tells us that the church Jesus left behind has not done a very good job with the very thing He told them to be about!
So what is your strategy for making a disciple? Let’s go ahead of that question. Do you realize that, as a follower of Christ… a disciple yourself…. you are called to this? If not, who is to do it? Only pastors and church staff leaders? Only missionaries? Only “super” Christians? Everything in the New Testament points to the right answer: You are. We are. All of us. One-on-one we are to be building relationships with people and imparting the teaching, the things that Christ commanded us, to them. And then they are to go and do the same.
We are to REACH people with the truth of the Gospel. They are to be baptized as a symbol of their belief. Then we are to REPRODUCE the life of Christ in them and they in turn are to reproduce this in other people. Finally, we are to RELEASE people into their kingdom assignment as God has called them. Our job is to “catch and release,” not “catch and keep.”
The fact that this sounds so radical to us is an indication that this process is exactly what is needed today for the church to become what Jesus fully intended and died to leave behind. We are to be disciple-making disciples. Who is already in your network or family that God has put in your life to do just this? Children? Spouse? Sibling or parent? Neighbor or co-worker? We must begin somewhere, and our “Jerusalem” is the easiest place to look. Ask God to open your eyes and help you see the one who is “next” for you.
Let’s change St. Johns and Duval and Clay County and Jacksonville and Florida and the USA and the world… and make disciples.
FOR MEDITATION: And you will be my witness in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts 1:8
FOR REFLECTION: Who has God placed in your path who needs to know what YOU know about Jesus?